SZNAP CHAT – JUNE 22
By Adam Sznapstajler

FORMULA ONE UPDATE

If you know me, you know that there is very little time that I have nothing to say. Unfortunately, going into this column, I was having trouble trying to figure out what to write when I had an epiphany.

Formula One Update

As I wrote last week, I have been getting into Formula One racing. This weekend offered the next chance to enjoy a race weekend at the French Grand Prix, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. To start off with, this was only the 10th race in Formula One history that did not feature a Did Not Finish in the race.

After no change at the top of the drivers championship, despite an intense last week in Baku, Max Verstappen entered the race as the pole sitter hoping to widen his gap ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The main issue for the race featured the Perrelli tires again. This time, it was less do to performance but rather weather. Going into the race, a heavy overcast covered the area and before the race it quickly cleared and warmed up.  However, the tire strategy was made during the cooler weather, throwing many teams for a loop.

Most drivers seemed to be using a one pit strategy, opting to go in around lap 20. After leading the entire race Max Verstappen got overtook by a recently pitted Lewis Hamilton. The race continued with Red Bull driver Sergio Perez taking the lead, having not pitted yet, followed by Hamilton, Verstappen, and Bottas. Eventually Perez pitted, leaving Hamilton, Verstappen, and the second Mercedes driver Valteri Bottas, on the podium spots.

This is where things got interesting,

As mentioned earlier, the weather circumstances had drastically changed since the tire strategy was designed. On the radio, you could clearly hear the Mercedes drivers and Verstappen complain about their tires, calling to change to a two pit stop strategy. Verstappen pitted with about 15 laps left, hoping to make a surge to first on new tires.  On the other hand Mercedes, ignored their drivers’ suggestions and stayed on the track, hoping the tires would last.

So going into the final 10-15 laps you are looking at a top four of Hamilton (Mercedes), Bottas (Mercedes), Perez (Red Bull), Verstappen (Red Bull). Perez quickly allowed his teammate and championship contender Verstappen to pass moving him into third. Verstappen continued to close in and passed Bottas with about 7 laps left. This led to a fuming Bottas cursing out his engineers on the radio and he would later get passed by Perez to fall out of the podium.

This led to a final five laps of 7-time Champion trying to hold off the new tires of future champion Max Verstappen. The Red Bull two-stop strategy worked out and Verstappen passed Hamilton with only two laps left to take the checkered flag, widening his gap in the drivers championship. Combined with the third place finish of Sergio Perez, Red Bull also widened the gap above Mercedes in the race for the Constructors Cup.

Immediately after the race, Mercedes engineers and strategists took the blame for ignoring their drivers.  With that said, the relationship with Bottas seems beyond repaid and I believe he will be racing elsewhere next season. I also want to give credit to the two McLaren drivers for finishing 5th and 6th and creating a solid gap for third in the Constructors Cup.

Check out my weekly column every Tuesday. Until then, sayonara from South Florida!